ST. LOUIS — After two young lives were cut short due to gun violence in St. Louis, mayoral candidates said the city needs a new public safety vision.
“My heart sinks thinking that could’ve been my son as he rides his bike through our neighborhood, we live on the West Side,” Treasurer Tishaura Jones said.
“The first thing that when through my own head was my own son, I couldn't imagine losing him at his young tender age,” Alderwoman Cara Spencer said.
Both agree crime is the top problem in town, both have different approaches. Jones wants to re-organize the city’s public safety approach by incorporating multiple professions like counselors to help treat trauma. She said the city’s crime is a regional problem, that extends beyond its borders. That’s why a complex, regional solution is needed for peace. Attacking poverty will reduce violence long-term.
“We see vacant lots, abandoned buildings, trash in the streets,” Jones said. “Nothing gives us hope for a different future than we see in our neighborhoods.”
Alderwoman Cara Spencer has a son around the age of the two boys killed this week. Her 10-step plan has long and short-term solutions. She said It’s low-cost and data-driven. She’s the victim of violence herself and knows how traumatizing these experiences can be.
“Bringing a tried and true data-driven approach to dealing with violence, focused deterrence and I've been in contact with plans in other cities and they are willing to come to St. Louis,” she said.
5 On Your Side asked both candidates if Police Chief John Hayden and/or Public Safety Director Jimmy Edwards is in their long-term plans:
“We have to go in a different direction, and everything is on the table,” Jones said. “That means every department the mayor is responsible for. Unfortunately, there are no sacred cops. We have to go in a different direction and either fortunately or unfortunately we have to interview everyone responsible for keeping our city safe. If they aren’t apart of the plan or solution, maybe they should try and find employment elsewhere.”
“It’s clear with the rising level of violence, that has continued to rise over the past couple of years,” Spencer said. “Clearly it’s showing itself right now, that we have issues that aren’t resolved and we need to take a fresh approach here. I am not committed to anyone in particular. It is alarming to me that we have structural issues or lack of strategy when dealing with violence. The locks that we learned recently in our incarceration facility that aren’t working. We have serious deficits that we have to address and that’s very, very clear.”
Both crimes are still unsolved and CrimeStoppers is upping the reward to get justice for both boys.